Navigating the New Instagram API: Starter Guide

NickArnett |
 02/19/19 |
4 min read

If your brand is on Instagram, you probably know that the visual wizards behind the curtain over there released a new and improved API in December. What you may not know is what this update means for your brand, specifically, and the many options it offers when it comes to influencer marketing, among other things. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you navigate.

New API, New Challenges

As we mentioned upon its release, the new Instagram API is exciting – and our users were among the first able to take advantage of its many updates. We’d been planning since news of its pending release came out, but that’s par for the course at NetBase, as we release new product updates every two months regardless!

We saw competitors and prospective clients struggle to make changes, unfortunately, as there were lots of permissions and processes to update, including:

Individual Data Pools Per Client

Listening platforms were required to create individual data pools for each client, to specifically define the Instagram channels and keywords a brand planned to track. This restricted search to your own data pool, but this collected content is the most relevant to your brand regardless, so it could help cut out lots of irrelevant noise.

When using the new API, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the authorizations you need, what you can get from your channels, competitor channels and influencers in a listening tool, and how to specify relevant hashtags for tracking.

User Authentications

If you plan to have a tool collecting data on your behalf, be ready to have one or more (you’ll want as many as possible) Facebook users with moderator, analyst (or higher) roles on your Facebook page prepared to authenticate on your behalf. This may spark privacy concerns with individuals, but shouldn’t as listening tools (NetBase, at least) only collect data from specified pages, not personal profiles.

But still, it sounds like a hassle, so why do you want many user authorizations?

“Instagram limits the number of calls to the new API based to 200 calls per hour per user authorization. The more authorizations you have granted your social listening platform, the more frequently we can request content on your behalf. This applies to all listening platforms. If fewer than two users in your account have authorized, Instagram data collection latency will increase.”

You’ll also want to make sure your Facebook page is linked to your Instagram business account – and be sure it’s designated as a business, not personal, account. That’s important or else it won’t work. This applies to influencer accounts as well! They have to be business channels.

A Bit About Business Channels & Data Collection

Business channels you track may be your own, a competitor or an influencer, and the permissions you have for each vary a bit. We have a series of visuals here that will clarify it for you, but to sum up:

  • Owned pages and influencers you’re working with – once the business channels are properly authorized, you can collect and analyze the following data: post text, media, like counts, comment counts, permalink, bio, follower counts, interests, professions, potential impressions, comment text and comment user names.
  • Competitor pages and influencers you’re not working with – everything above except comment text and comment user names.

As an aside, to prevent any gaps in channel tracking coverage, NetBase internal teams had owned, competitor and other data they were currently tracking ready for clients to refer to and it greatly expedited the process. It also helped them narrow down their hashtag lists, which was timely . . .

30 Hashtags Per Business Page

With each authorized Instagram channel limited to 30 unique hashtags for any rolling seven-day period, users needed to plan ahead. But, with each authorized user account able to collect its own additional 30 hashtags, planning ahead has hurt a whole lot less than it could have.

It still requires a targeted approach, but with accurate audience understanding it just encourages good marketing habits for brand teams. It’s also upped the ante for listening tools, which is something we welcome, as our Next Generation AI offers best in class analysis of social media and all forms of structured data, at scale!

Taking it Together to Create Listening Success

Seeing Instagram’s API changes take effect during the holiday season demonstrated how powerful they were – as our customers were able to reach out to new audience segments without missing a beat. With more than 8 million business on Instagram – an estimated 71% of businesses are using this social network. And that’s just businesses – there are already more than 1 billion monthly users on Instagram. If your target audience isn’t on Instagram, it probably isn’t online.

And right now, our customers are gleefully taking advantage of our 27 months of history for data downloaded for channels. This historical data will serve them well as they move forward and provides an exceptional competitive edge in any market. You can’t go back in time to do that, unfortunately, but you can start now – and wow, will you be glad you did!

Ahead of the API changes, we created both a “Getting Started” video and a checklist for customers to help them collect everything and experience a successful transition. Reach out to learn more about it, or if you have any Instagram API changes. We’re happy to show you a demo of the changes in action!


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